Somalia’s economic potential is well-known: it has the longest coastline in mainland Africa, a thriving private sector, a young labor force and untapped natural wealth.
Moreover, members of the Somali diaspora are returning to Somalia with much-needed capital for growth and development.
But what will this potential amount to if urban areas are unable to deal with stresses and shocks related to drought, floods and insecurity? Urban resilience is the ability of communities, institutions, businesses, and systems within a city to survive, adapt, and grow, regardless of the chronic stresses and acute shocks they may experience. How well does this description reflect Somali cities?
That question became pressing in the first half of 2017, where Somalia faced its worst drought in decades. Over half the population – an estimated 6.7 million people – were in need of humanitarian assistance and recovery support. Over 680’000 people were displaced in the same time period, most of whom were displaced from rural to urban areas.
The vulnerability of the urban poor escalated due to pressure from urbanization, the competition for scarce resources, and weak governance structures.
Confronted by these challenges, Somali authorities responded with the support of the World Bank through the Somali Urban Investment Planning Project (SUIPP). Local governments have taken the lead in identifying select urban investments that can help improve urban resilience in their respective cities.
The project assesses the feasibility and prepares preliminary designs for these prioritized selected urban investments and also helps prepare municipalities to oversee their construction by building procurement, financial management capacities. Administered by the World Bank through the Multi-Partner Fund (MPF), SUIPP increases the ability of local Somali authorities to prepare and implement urban development projects.
SUIPP prepares the ground for a proposed larger scale, World Bank supported infrastructure project. Once underway, this larger project, named the Somali Urban Resilience and Recovery (SURR) project, will signal the importance of supporting urban resilience, and places local authorities, including BRA, in the forefront of the urban agenda. SURR would also create jobs by financing basic rehabilitation of infrastructure.
The Benadir Regional Administration (BRA), the local authority that governs the capital and implements SUIPP, has made the urban agenda their priority.
Focusing on community road rehabilitation, BRA has completed feasibility studies, preliminary designs, and environment and social safeguards studies for the rehabilitation of community roads to improve transport and transit efficiencies across the 17 districts. The roads to be rehabilitated have been selected by the districts themselves through a consultative process. The road rehabilitation will provide much needed short term labor opportunities for the poor and marginalized within Mogadishu, many of whom are internally displaced.
Inclusive Urban Development
Mogadishu is one of the fastest urbanizing cities in the world, largely driven by its improving security situation, economic prospects and displacement. The recent Somalia Economic Update (SEU) showed that 70% of Somalia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is urban-based. It also concluded that resilience to recurring natural hazards requires considerable, longer-term investment in urban livelihoods, services and infrastructure. Urban sector development is an important factor in development given its potential to enhance economic productivity, reduce human vulnerability and build the capacity of local authorities, including BRA.
Evidence indicates that infrastructure development projects can have social, human and economic impacts and outcomes for targeted communities.
Infrastructure development furthermore can have different impacts and outcomes on men and women, influencing access to services and economic opportunities, resource allocations, and participation in community decision-making. The socio-economic impact study informs larger scale infrastructure investments to ensure they have an equitable impact to all community groups.
Omar Hussein, the project lead from BRA, emphasizes the need of inclusive urban development. “We don’t implement anything unless every affected stakeholder is involved in decision-making. We have to consult professional groups, women, youth, religious leaders and other affected groups to fully scope the urban development needs in Mogadishu. These are the groups that selected the roads to be rehabilitated within their district”.
Preparing for recurrent natural hazards is also crucial, as Mogadishu is the premier destination for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). Improving infrastructure and retrofitting key roads to improve connectivity across districts and water infrastructure will increase the capacity of societies to react and recover from hazards.
Through SUIPP, BRA has clearly mapped the strategic planning capacity, technical and operational capacity, fiduciary systems, transparency and accountability mechanisms, and environmental and social management. With this important groundwork in place, Somalia’s urban zones are setting the stage to foster greater stability through urban investments.
Since the World Bank’s reengagement in 2013, Somali authorities have been implementing Bank-funded projects. Recognizing that the State has the primary role to reduce disaster risk, the Government stresses urban development as a strategic priority across Somalia. Working through country-systems also increases the capability of Somali authorities to design, implement and own urban development projects
The World Bank Group, through the Multi-Partner Fund, supports a range of state-building initiatives in Somalia, most of which are implemented by the Federal Government of Somalia and its regional counterparts. Examples include the Public Financial Management (PFM) Reform Project, which provides digital systems for transparent financial management, and the Special Financing Facility for Local Development (SFF-LD), which supports construction of infrastructure in Somalia through the Ministry of Finance.
Kansas Trio Convicted in Plot to Bomb Somali Immigrants
WICHITA, Kan. — A federal jury on Wednesday convicted three men of plotting to bomb an apartment complex where Somali immigrants lived and worshiped in Garden City, Kan., giving prosecutors a victory at a time when threats against religious and racial minorities are rising nationally.
“These defendants conspired to build a bomb, blow up a building and murder every single man, woman and child inside,” Tony Mattivi, a federal prosecutor, told jurors during closing statements.
The men, Curtis Allen, Gavin Wright and Patrick Stein, all of whom are white, appeared stoic as the verdicts were read. They face up to life in prison when they are sentenced in June.
The jury of six men and six women deliberated for about seven hours over two days.
Defense lawyers tried to convince jurors that their clients were manipulated by the F.B.I., and had been unfairly targeted for exercising their rights to own guns and speak freely.
“He was a member of a militia. He loved his guns. This was a lifestyle,” Melody Brannon, a lawyer for Mr. Allen, told the mostly white jury. “The government tried to criminalize that lifestyle.”
The trial, which played out over about a month in Wichita, focused on a period before the 2016 presidential election when a paid F.B.I. informant infiltrated a militia group that prosecutors said included the three men. Prosecutors, who built much of their case around secret recordings that the informant made of the men talking, said that they planned to carry out the bombing on Nov. 9 of that year, a day after voters selected a president.
“They wanted to send a message to the people living there that they’re not welcome in Garden City, they’re not welcome in southwest Kansas, they’re not welcome in the United States,” Mr. Mattivi said.
The men, who called themselves “the Crusaders,” were arrested about four weeks before Election Day and charged with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction and conspiracy against rights, which the Justice Department considers a hate crime. Mr. Wright was also charged with lying to the F.B.I. The three men were found guilty on all counts against them.
The trial came amid a national escalation in threats against religious and racial minorities, especially Muslims, according to the F.B.I. and organizations that monitor hate crimes.
“It is now approaching the level of hate violence against the same communities that we saw in the immediate wake of the 9/11 attacks,” said Suman Raghunathan, executive director of SAALT: South Asian Americans Leading Together, a national advocacy organization.
Prosecutors portrayed the Kansas defendants as aspiring domestic terrorists who joined a militia and decided to bomb the Somali apartments after considering other attacks — on elected officials, churches that helped refugees and landlords who rented to immigrants.
Defense lawyers, who criticized the F.B.I.’s investigation throughout the trial as government overreach, suggested that their clients had merely engaged in idle talk inspired partly by the 2016 election. Expletive-filled recordings of the men played before the jury contained repugnant, bigoted language, the defense lawyers said, but not evidence of a federal crime.
“It is not morally right to hold such hate, but it is not legally wrong,” said James Pratt, a lawyer for Mr. Stein, who acknowledged that his client referred to Muslims as “cockroaches.” Mr. Stein referred to himself, the recordings showed, as an “Orkin man,” referencing the pest extermination company.
“We all have the right to hate,” Mr. Pratt added.
A bombing never took place, and no one was physically injured in Garden City, a point defense lawyers emphasized to jurors. They said the men lacked the ability or commitment to carry out such an attack, and that the F.B.I.’s paid informant helped steer the plot and suggested targeting the apartments.
Garden City is a racially diverse place about 200 miles west of Wichita with around 27,000 residents. Many Somalis and other immigrants have moved to the area in recent years to work at a nearby meatpacking plant.
The apartment complex that prosecutors say was targeted is a center of Somali life in Garden City. Many refugee families live in units of the complex; others come to pray in a makeshift mosque inside one unit.
Moussa Elbayoumy, who chairs the board of the Kansas chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the verdict affirmed his faith in the justice system.
Many Muslims he talked to in Garden City had not followed the trial closely, Mr. Elbayoumy said, but had hoped for convictions.
“The instance was troubling, was concerning. People were afraid,” Mr. Elbayoumy said in a phone interview. “But after that, they put this behind them and moved on with their lives.”
What’s triggering tension between Somalia and the UAE? | Inside Story
Somalia has been in conflict for much of the past 25 years. But the horn of Africa nation has been showing signs of recovery.
And that’s provoked interest from many regional countries including the United Arab Emirates.
The Gulf nation has been conducting a military training programme and running a hospital in the capital Mogadishu.
But, the UAE’s government has now abruptly ended its involvement on both those fronts after a series of recent diplomatic disagreements.
So, why are the UAE and other regional countries interested in Somalia?
AMISOM asks for more police officers in Somalia
DAILY MONITOR — KISMAYO- The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has asked partners states to contribute more police officers to expand its operations in the war-torn country.
The call was made on Tuesday by Ms Christine Alalo, the acting AMISOM police commissioner while receiving 145 police officers from Sierra Leone.
The deployment of the force from Sierra Leone brings to 160 the number of police officers from Sierra Leone.
“We expect other police contributing countries to do the same because we are expanding our operations. We are moving away from Mogadishu,” Ms Alalo said.
Apart from Sierra Leone, other police contributing countries in Somalia are; Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, Zambia and Ghana.
Early this month, over 500 Ugandan Police Officers sat for interviews that would see successful ones join police operations in Somalia.
Ms Alalo said since police operations will be extended to other federal states and districts, it is inevitable to increase the number of police units.
Between 2015 and 2016, AMISOM trained 600 Somali officers in Jubbaland, but Ms Alalo said that number has to be reinforced.
Meanwhile, the AMISOM Assistant Inspector General of Police, Mustafa Solomon Kambeh, said the police officers would be deployed in Jubbaland and Kismayo.
Mr Kambeh doubles as the Contingent Commander of the Sierra Leonean FPU in Mogadishu urged the forces to stick to the AMISOM mandate of pacifying Somalia and its regional states.
The Formed Police Unit is charged with public order management, protection of facilities and support to police operations that require a concerted response.
The United Nations Security Council Resolution adopted in 2017 approved an increase to a maximum of 1,040 police officers serving under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM)
AMISOM is committed to redoubling its efforts to train and recruit more police officers during the transition period as it prepares to hand over security responsibilities to the Somali security forces as stipulated in the Security Council Resolution.